Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

In pictures: Photographic archive gives incredible glimpse of healthcare before the NHS

11/18/1941: A nurse in a white gown and cap taking a throat swab from a patient, at Middlesex Hospital (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
11/18/1941: A nurse in a white gown and cap taking a throat swab from a patient, at Middlesex Hospital (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)

A RECENTLY uncovered archive of photographs is giving people a glimpse into healthcare in the years just before the NHS was founded.

Some 4,050 photographs documenting healthcare in Britain between 1938 and 1943 were discovered by staff at heritage agency Historic England’s archive in Swindon.

29/8/1941: Patients in a physical training class at St Ebba’s Hospital, Epsom, Surrey (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
21/10/1941: A young girl sitting at a synoptiscope in the Orthoptics Department, King Edward VII Memorial Children’s Hospital, Ladywood, Birmingham (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
8/4/1941: A nurse weighing a baby on a set of balance scale (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)

They give a “striking” glimpse into wartime healthcare, in the years before the NHS was founded in 1948, from training nurses to treating adults and children, and the medical procedures and equipment in use at the time.

As well as showing burns treatments, blood transfusions, sterilising equipment and X-rays, the images also reveal health staff enjoying their time off, ice skating on a frozen tennis court and riding carousels.

And the typed descriptions that accompany the images, which record the date, location, and details of staff and equipment, give insights into the attitudes of the time.

3/9/1941: Nurses in protective clothing practising gas decontamination of a patient (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
20/12/1940: A patient in a saline bath, whilst staff work in the background, at the Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
5/10/1942: A physiotherapist directing remedial exercises (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
20/1/1939: A patient lying beneath the x-ray tube (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)

The wording accompanying one image of an exercise class includes the lines: “Peckham mothers can keep that schoolgirl figure. The cares of house-keeping and raising a family can play havoc with a mother’s looks and bodily shapeliness.”

The photographs were taken by the Topical Press Agency, but how they ended up in the archive is a mystery, Historic England said.

The collection is being made accessible to the public for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, which came into being on July 5 1948.

20/9/1939: A man placing rubber gloves on moulds into an oven in a factory producing rubber gloves (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
22/9/1939: Nurses on stationary cycles in gym at the new Albert Dock Hospital, Alnwick Road, Greater London (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
6/11/1940: Staff and convalescing nurses (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
9/8/1940: A nurse holding equipment for the transfusion of dried plasma (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)

Historic England has also produced resources for secondary school teachers to help students explore the history of medicine in the NHS’s 70th year.

Funding from the Wellcome Trust has enabled 2,100 images to be digitised, as part of a year-long project to conserve, catalogue and digitise the entire collection, and they can be viewed and searched on the Historic England website.

Abigail Coats, archive cataloguing officer at Historic England, said: “Working with this collection every day has been fascinating and a real joy.

“The photographs reveal health and welfare provision at a time of social upheaval and change.

“But they also show staff having fun and unwinding after a long working day.

“You can see just how far some medical developments have come, but also what has stayed largely unchanged.”

1/1/1940: Nurses and students ice-skating in a chain formation on a tennis court at the London Fever Hospital (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
6/11/1940: Student nurses gathered around a sister tutor explaining the anatomy of the human head (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
3/3/1941: A view of staff operating sterilising equipment, in the operating theatre block at St James’ Hospital, Beckett Street, Leeds (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)
8/5/1939: Two nurses operating an iron lung at an exhibition in Charing Cross underground station. (Historic England Archive /PA Wire)

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, said: “The Historic England Archive is full of countless gems but the Topical Press Agency images are particularly striking.

“Thanks to the Wellcome Trust we are able to conserve these photographs and share them with new audiences.

“They have the potential to expand our knowledge of wartime medical practice and revolutionary treatments and help us delve deeper into the history of healthcare.”

The pictures can be viewed at:

HistoricEngland.org.uk/medical